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A Memory

by Psychotic

We were at the hospital visiting my grandma. She was sick, though I wasn't sure what with. She took my hand, just as we were about to leave, giving it a squeeze. I turned back and looked at her. Her eyes were as big as moons framed by deep-set wrinkles and beige sunspots. Her brows were pulled together and her mouth slightly parted. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but those eyes were pleading. That squeeze was filled with loneliness, yet it was determined. But I just looked at her pitifully and back to my family who was already at the door. I forced a smile for my grandma, and something sad and broken flickered across her face. She let go, and I waved goodbye.

That’s all I remember when I think of her now. The way I had acted when she had taken my hand in hers. As though she was disgusting and I was too nice to say. It was the last time I saw my grandma. I had left for Oklahoma the day after, ready to spend my summer with my dad and step-mom, Cora.

It wasn’t a great summer. They fought and argued while I sat in silence in the cramped little RV. I could handle it. I had last year.

Until Fathers’ Day came around. I got my dad a shirt and a great big hug as a gift. He thanked me with a jolly laugh, and we sat and watched T.V. together. When Cora came in, I offered her a seat on the couch next to me. She just shook her head, a solemn “no” that disturbed the relaxed atmosphere. She looked at me and Dad with a heavy sigh and drooping eyes.

“Margaret is dead,” she stated, loud and clear. “She died last night.”

That’s it. That’s all it was. Seven short words put a blanket over me, casting me into a darkness that seemed alive as it writhed with pain and regret.

But I didn’t cry. I couldn’t bring myself to. Neither did Cora. I comforted my Dad as best I could with a warm heart and open arms.

The drive back up to North Dakota was long and tiresome. I didn’t eat a thing, and my mind drifted away with the music that tiptoed out of my earbuds.

The funeral was just as dreary, filled with that familiar sickly sweet scent with undertones of death and tears. My older brother went to the podium and shared a few words, a few memories. He had asked me beforehand if there was anything I would like for him to say in my stead. I shook my head, too afraid of the people that would be listening and the way my words would sound on my brother’s tongue. Too afraid of my own family.

Looking at my grandma’s body in the casket left a sour taste in my throat. She wasn’t sleeping. Nowhere near it. She was screaming as best as her broken voice could, yet all I could hear were the quiet whimpers of my family as they wandered through the funeral home.

Her wrinkles looked like stiff clay, molded to look like the grandmother I knew. It didn’t work. That was not my grandma. Except that it was.

My brother began to cry as he sat right next to me, big heaving sobs that sagged down with grief. I was crying too, though my tears were different from my brother’s. My tears were fake. They were wrong and only left me with a suffocating feeling as though I had just gotten out of a hot shower. And I was pushing aside the curtain to breathe some crisp air, but none came. The air stayed hot and clammy, clogging my throat and leaving my lungs hungry for more. Like words were rising up, catching in my throat. But what would I say?

My grandma was dead. I was too, though my time had come long before hers.

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261 Reviews

Points: 24431
Reviews: 261

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:43 pm
RandomTalks wrote a review...

Hello! RandomTalks here for a short review!

First of all this was a really powerful piece. You have a really strong voice and I think that is what makes your writing stand out. Also the fact that you wrote this from a memory, instills this honesty in your words and makes it hit all the more harder. I don't have much criticism to offer, as I think this piece is perfect as it is. I would have loved to read more descriptions and delve into all those emotions you introduced through your simple writing. But this is your story, and it's real, and you shouldn't have to gloss over it.

Just one suggestion I would like to put forward:

"As though she was disgusting and I was too nice to say."

Add 'so' here after the word 'say', so that the sentence reads: "...and I was too nice to say so." Otherwise, the sentence feels kind of incomplete.

Once again, this was a hauntingly beautiful read, and I am sorry that this happened to you. But you have a talent, and a strong voice and I just know you are going to make people cry with your words one day.

Hope you have a great day and keep writing!

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108 Reviews

Points: 13147
Reviews: 108

Sun Sep 22, 2019 4:10 pm
Asith wrote a review...

Woah, I've been reading through some stories that I've missed because they left the green room quickly, and I really wish I read this one sooner. Realistic short stories aren't usually my forte, but this one is done really well! I adore the themes of death and alienation from family and the slight sprinklings of guilt; you've really driven them all home. Even though you've already got two, I'm going to leave a review, for Revmo.

Okay, I know I spent my introduction gushing over the fact that I like this, but it really does deserve some praise! Your star quality is probably in your descriptions, be it physical or otherwise. You have a lovely, borderline-flowery vocabulary that paints artistic pictures in a reader's mind. This is probably what makes the story hit me so hard.
Your other skill is in your use of emotions. I adore the concept of a character not feeling as saddened by a death, and actually feeling guilty for that apathy. It makes for a wonderful spectrum of feeling, and you've utilised it really well. Combined with your lovely descriptions, the thoughts presented here really planted themselves in my own head, until I was feeling what the character was feeling!

Although your descriptions and emotional usage is wonderful, the things in between could use some work. It feels as if you haven't put as much effort into the simple things; the things that don't use as much artistic expression. The problem even carries on to the point where some of your paragraphs are in very awkward places, and sentences worded very jarringly. You should make an effort to develop this filler into something more interesting, both for you to write and for a reader to read. Right now, you tend to just tell us a list of events or journeys -- but it's always better to show, not tell! Focusing on the character's thoughts in these moments (which you have actually done, so good job) could also help!

Thanks for posting your work :D

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596 Reviews

Points: 13679
Reviews: 596

Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:00 pm
FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...

Hello FlamingPhoenix here with a review for you on this lovely night, and to help get your wonderful work out of the green room.

Okay let's begin.

So I think @mellifera did a wonderful job pointing out the little things that needed to be fixed, so I wont bug you will repeating the same things. So I will go over what I really liked about this work.

So when I began to read this work the deep emotion that has been put into it could be felt form the very beginning, and it followed throughout the whole poem, and it gave it more meaning, and it made the words you wrote stick with the reader better. What I mean is that it made then mean something, it didn't just make this sound like a story, it almost feels like something that has happened to me the reader, and that's not a feeling I get very much when I am reading a work that relays on emotion so much.
I'm also loving the description in this work to, it just adds so much more to the emotion, when you do everything right it really all works together so well, and you have done just that.
How did you come up with such a heart breaking story, it really made me sad, I don't understand how you can write something so sad like this, doesn't it upset you? Either one I might have to higher you to write the sad parts in my book, that's how good you are! XD

I really loved reading and reviewing your work, I'm glad I had the chance to tell you what I thought, I hope you will keep writing and post more work on YWS soon, I will be keeping an eye out for more. Have a great day or night.

Your friend
Reviewing with a fiery passion!


Psychotic says...

Hehe thanks for the positive review! This actually happened to me a little over a year ago. Hence the title: A Memory.

Ahh that explains a few things.

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351 Reviews

Points: 14084
Reviews: 351

Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:45 pm
mellifera wrote a review...

Hey Psychotic! I'm dropping in for a review today :D

though I’m not sure what with.

I think this would read better (and stay in tense better) if it was "though I wasn't sure what with."

I hadn’t realized it at the time, but those eyes, they were pleading.

You stop/pause this sentence awkwardly. There's no reason you can't run through this smoothly: "I hadn't realized it at the time, but those eyes were pleading." It also reads better, and there isn't that jutting stop.

You'll want to be careful with your use of just. In the first paragraph alone, it comes up twice. It doesn't enhance your prose at all, only serving as a padding in this instance. Especially in a short like this, you want to be careful about repetition because it dries out your writing (it does in any story, but it's a lot more noticeable in such a short time span like it is here).

ready to spend my summer with my dad and his wife, Cora.

Instead of putting Cora's relationship to the protagonist's father, perhaps you could put in the protagonist's relationship with her? I assume you're implying Cora is the protagonist's step-mother, but since it's not explicitly stated, you could just be using a strangely roundabout way to describe the protagonist's mum.

though it that’s pretty normal.

Is the "it" supposed to be there? Honestly, correct or not, I'd remove this line altogether. You can say it wasn't a great summer and leave it at that.

Three short words put a blanket over me,

I know you meant the "Margaret is dead" as the three words, but this reads oddly because it comes after she's said seven words. I... don't know how to suggest this be rectified, because it's not technically wrong, but I will still mention it for you to handle as you will.

familiar sickly sweet scent

"familiar"? Is this meant to be a nod towards the protagonist's grandmother's perfume? I thought, at first, you meant some kind of perfume to cover over the smell of death at the funeral, but then why would it be familiar?
(upon further review - by which I mean I finished - this is actually a really good hint about the ending)

And I was pushing aside the curtain to breathe some crisp air, but none came. The air stayed hot and clammy, clogging my throat and leaving my lungs hungry for more.

I really love this description! It's a terrific show of how the protagonist is feeling, how stifled they feel, and how uncomfortable this situation is for them. Great work <3

They felt wrong

I know I just complemented your description, and it still stands (though I would have loved to see more of it in the rest of the work as well!), I'm only going to point out that here and at the end, you use "felt", which is a straightforward telling. In this instance, it can be switched to "They were wrong". We know who's perspective it is, we know who's feeling these things, so by writing them, you're telling your readers about it, rather than showing how they're reacting.
The other place is "It felt like I had something to say", that could possibly be "Words rose and caught in my throat, but what would I even say?" or, you know, that's up to you to decide of your own accord (notice that I didn't use "felt", which was all I was trying to avoid).
You did such a beautiful job right before it though, so I'm not too worried. They're minor errors (that I make all the time lol)!

I was too, though my time had come long before hers.


I sort of noticed this line (because my eyes drift a lot rip) beforehand but I didn't really soak it in until I read it just now, and OH that was a twist I wasn't expecting. It's definitely the kind of twist that you have to go back and read over and you're just like "oOH".

While I think you could have done with a little more description and extra spice, so to speak (some touching up, editing, to tighten you prose and strengthen it), this is a really good short. I enjoyed that twist at the end as well, and while I think you could drop like, one more hint like the perfume? I think you had a very good build-up to that, so kudos to you for that!

That's all I have for today! If you have any comments or questions about anything I said, please let me know!

I hope you have a wonderful day, and Happy RevMo!


Psychotic says...

Thank you for the constructive criticism! It really helps. When I meant familiar, I meant that I had been to a funeral before. I know I didn't make it that clear. I just didn't want to leave that part out, you know? :)

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